The difficulties of Birthday and Christmas wish lists when your child has global delay
I have family living in different countries and spread throughout Britain so one of the ways they like to know what to buy the children is by having an Amazon wish list.
You would think that almost eight year old twins would be in their absolute element at the thought of getting to make their very own Amazon wish list. The volume of toys, books, clothes and games available would excite almost any child.
Except my son has no idea at all.
He has no idea what a birthday is.
He has no idea people want to buy him new things.
He has no concept of a party.
He can not blow candles out on a birthday cake.
And he most definitely has no idea at all what Amazon even is let alone a wish list.
So I find myself on the site and decide to start with toys. I type in toys for 8 year old boys: Lego, remote control cars, sports toys and games and science related toys.
If I ever needed to face reality that does it right there. Not one of those items is in any way suitable.
So I change tactic and think about characters. He has no idea who super man is, or Ben10, or sky landers or Dr Who. These, apparently, are what boys his age like? My son is different.
At eight he likes Teletubbies, Bing Bunny and Peppa Pig. I know there are cuddly toys of those he will put in a bag and carry around or chew.
He loves nothing more than to have a good chew at a favourite character he likes from the television. So I decide to add in a cuddle toy and ignore the fact they are aimed at toddlers.
Then comes the inevitable 'other people who bought this item also bought...'
..and here the website decides to show me many more toys along the same vein...plastic figures and baby and toddler toys all aimed at the under three market.
I decide to ignore the critics and add a few of those in too. He might play with them and they make noises and light up which is right up his street.
Then I have a wonderful, or so I thought, idea! As I see pyjamas and t-shirts pop up I think how excited he would be to see his favourite Bing Bunny character on a top or nightwear. Much to my disappointment there is nothing in his size.
He is an average sized eight year old but yet I know of tall four year olds of a similar build. But apparently only small children are allowed to like pre-school characters which is really sad. Nothing I can add there then.
Clothes lead me to shoes. He is almost in adult sizes now but still needs support to put shoes on and can only manage Velcro fasteners with support.
They are increasingly difficult to find in adult sizes and again there are no characters he would understand and he has zero brand awareness. No point adding trainers to his list.
I have two cuddly toys and two toddler toys. This is not going well.
I finally decide that this is HIS list and focus on what HE likes. I add some sensory toys, some bath toys and a couple of books and DVDs.
My final list is more like what an eighteen month old would appreciate than an eight year old. Some of the family may be shocked and disappointed that yet again he has baby toys on his list.
This is the reality of a child with severe autism and global developmental delay. Next year's list is likely to be much of the same again.
Times like this are a brutal reminder of how different my child is.
But like any other child, whether he understands birthdays and Christmas or not, I have an opportunity to bless him with some surprises. If any of my family chose from that list I know we are sure to see this smile...and that is why I make the list.
I made the mistake of googling toys for eight year olds but by making an Amazon list I can same any family and friends making the same mistake too.
After all who wants the same as any other child anyway?